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Public Health, Personal Responsibility and Perception
HIV assault case demonstrates need for more education, advocacy
By Cat Carrel
(509) 232-0721 www.wilburnweb.com
very now and then, something happens that reminds us why we fight the hard fight. Last month that "something" came in the form of Zuriel Roush, a 22-year-old man arrested on first degree assault charges for "knowingly exposing another man to the virus that causes AIDS." According to the media coverage, Roush met a man in the park for anonymous sex and later, when the man found out that Roush was HIV positive, filed charges against Roush. That, in and of itself, may not have garnered front page news, had not Roush admitted that he possibly had unprotected sex with dozens more "victims". For those of us who work in HIV prevention and LGBTQ advocacy, the story and its subsequent reporting in the news brought up two issues that we face and fight every single day: HIV prevention and the use of negative gay stereotypes that contribute to retaliatory violence and hatred against us queer folks. The inflammatory nature of the reporting, that is, the inflation of the number of participants and their portrayal as "victims" both undermines and inspires our continued work in the community. First and foremost, this is a public health issue, not a gay issue. Every attempt should be made to contact the men who participated and test them for HIV. This could prove to be a daunting task, as Roush often used hook up sites like Manhunt to anonymously connect with his sex partners. Prevention workers have their work cut out for them. Second, this is a personal responsibility issue. The men with whom Roush hooked up cannot be called "victims". In this day and age, who does not know that unprotected sex puts a person at risk for various STDs? Who hooks up with someone for anonymous sex on Manhunt and puts their life in a total stranger's hands? Protection is not just the responsibility of the "giver" but also of the "receiver," which brings up a third point.
f r e e l a n c e
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(509)╩389-3125 firstname.lastname@example.org www.berrybrewer.com
Some kinds of sex are riskier than others. Depending on who is giving, receiving, where that giving or receiving is taking place (in the body, not in the park), and other factors, unprotected sex between discordant (positive and negative) individuals can
| July 2009 | Q View Northwest - Spokane Edition | www.qviewnorthwest.com